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The 7 best smart outdoor products to buy in summer 2020 – CNET

The phrase “smart home” usually conjures images of products that go inside a home — an Alexa smart speaker, a Nest thermostat, a Samsung refrigerator. But more and more we’re seeing products and even apps that help beyond your front door. You can use a lot of this tech year-round, like a doorbell or an LED spotlight or outdoor speakers. Others are seasonal. 

Let’s take a look at seven categories of the best outdoor smart devices you can buy this summer.

Rachio

Smart gardening used to be focused on standalone plant sensors. Buy a Parrot Flower Power or an Oso Technologies PlantLink, stick it in a pot — or directly in your yard — and wait for it to tell you when to water your plant. These small devices were fairly limited, especially for folks interested in monitoring larger gardens. 

Enter: Connected irrigation systems. From Rachio’s latest smart sprinkler set up to CNET’s homemade drip irrigation system, which we’ve used in the past to grow lettuce, jalapenos and Carolina Reapers, these systems help you track a larger space remotely.

6 reasons you need a smart sprinkler.

Chris Monroe/CNET

Outdoor camera smart home devices aren’t new, but the variety of outdoor security camera options have increased a ton in recent years. Where it was once limited to a standard camera, we’re now seeing smart security camera options built in to outdoor light fixtures, motion sensor smart doorbells and even battery-powered smart security camera options. 

We’re most excited about the new LTE cameras that work over a cellular network, which effectively monitor garden pests outside Wi-Fi range.

The best outdoor security cameras of 2020.

Extend your Wi-Fi range

Netgear Orbi Outdoor

Chris Monroe/CNET

A wireless access point, also called an extender, is a great way to get your Wi-Fi network outside, if you don’t want an LTE camera or simply want to get internet out in the garden. 

An outdoor extender, like the Netgear Orbi Outdoor, can easily handle this. Read our in-depth look at how to cover your yard in Wi-Fi here and more about Wi-Fi extenders we like.

Read our Netgear Orbi Outdoor review.

Tyler Lizenby/CNET

We’ve covered indoor lighting extensively, but smart outdoor lighting is a relatively new space. Sure, you can control an outdoor light with an indoor wired Lutron switch, but what about smart LEDs that combat the elements?

There’s good news on the smart light front: companies are beginning to introduce more outdoor smart light LEDs and fixtures, including this Ring outdoor light. 

The best smart lights of 2020.

Colin West McDonald/CNET

Yes, a garage isn’t technically “outside,” but it covers that space between your driveway and your home. For a lot of us, it’s where we store the lawn mower and the garden tools. Smart garage door openers let you open and close your garage using an app or a voice command. This smart home device can even send reminders to your phone to let you know when you’ve left the door open.

The best smart garage door controllers for 2020.

Weather-tracking tech

BloomSky Sky2

Tyler Lizenby/CNET

You can track the weather in your area with a quick Google search any time, but smart weather stations are more customized. The BloomSky Sky2 Weather Camera Station tracks temperature, wind speed, rain and air pressure right in your backyard. Whether you’re a weather geek or want to monitor the latest forecast to determine when best to plant, water and harvest plants in your garden, device options like this might be a smart investment.

Read our BloomSky Sky2 review.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Whether you’re working in the yard or enjoying an evening cocktail on the porch, waterproof Bluetooth speakers bring your favorite music or podcasts to you. 

We especially like the affordable Tribit MaxSound Plus. This $56 battery-powered speaker is supposed to last for up to 20 hours on a single charge. And, bonus, this smart device can survive rain storms and splashes from the pool because it’s waterproof.

Read our Tribit MaxSound Plus review.

More awesome outdoor stuff 


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